Our children’s everyday lives are already carefully planned from day care, because we parents want to support our little ones as early as possible. But all support and demands can also lead to the opposite. Psychologist Dr. Anke Elisabeth Ballmann promotes more peace in the home and in day care institutions and schools in her new heartwarming educational guide “The Lazy Animal Principle”. I read it and learned the following messages from the sloth Frieda and teacher Anke, which can inspire us all.
# 1 A daycare is not a school
Anke Elisabeth Ballmann has for many years supported parents and children mentally and was herself a deputy day care worker. She says that a day care institution is not a school and must be flexible so that children do not become stressed at an early age. Kindergarten children should have plenty of free play time instead of day care institutions running early education programs. She encourages parents not to ask too much of their preschoolers, but to let them do what makes them happy.
“If early institutional education is really so important and irreplaceable for children, why are more and more children mentally ill, even though 95 percent of all children go to kindergarten? Does education make you sick?”
Dr. Anne Elizabeth Ballman
# 2 Not all children need to go to high school to be successful and happy
A chapter in the psychologist’s book calls her “Fuck the Gymnasium!” Behind this title hides a call for parents not to make so much fuss about their children’s choice of school. Today, everything is often about one goal: if possible, the child must get Abitur to become a successful person. She does not criticize the high school as a learning and educational institution, but the pressure that prevails on many children from first grade to, if possible, have to reach this level of education.
Any child who achieves performance that may not be sufficient for this has not achieved it in the eyes of many parents and society. We should take this pressure off ourselves, because as you can often see, personal happiness does not always depend on educational qualifications. Any job can be satisfying, whether you need to have studied for it or are in apprenticeship.
# 3 Learn for fun, not for grades
Another point of criticism from Anke is the PISA system: It is still very much about how many A-students there are in certain disciplines. This is what young people’s performance is measured by, and if a society is doing poorly, it is said that children are stupid. The goal of school success is often “to make money as fast as possible and keep the economy running”. In the process, personal satisfaction is lost, and the path to personal futility and burnout is paved. But we should make learning more fun for children and not show them that it’s about getting good grades.
Rather, children should learn for the joy of new things and find out what suits them best. We parents can contribute a lot to this by not demanding that they have good grades everywhere or that they scold or be disappointed if they get worse than a three in math, German or art. It alone does not determine their value as a person and certainly not their future!
# 4 Security is an illusion
We live in a world with an oversupply of opportunities, educational pathways, job offers, educational models, food and and and. Based on this, we must choose the best possible for a “successful” life and therefore develop a safety net to meet all these requirements. But these many options lead to total fear of making decisions and constantly squinting for alternatives. Our children are growing into this world with its many demands and are therefore overwhelmed and stressed right from the start. Most of the decisions we make in our lives are made out of fear, which unfortunately is never a good guide.
Instead, we should remain calm, humble, and trust in our path. Because the corona pandemic, natural disasters and the global energy crisis show us that there is no security. We should learn from the sloths to slow down, remain calm, and accept that life is full of dangers.
# 5 Resilience ensures our survival
For our demanding lives full of dangers, we need a skill that we can learn at any age – resilience: “Persevering people are people who are overthrown, but who recover well after the shocks and blows of fate and like a tumult again. and get back on their feet because they are adapting to new circumstances. ” We and our children can train resilience over and over again by continuing when something throws us back and simply trying things out, no matter what obstacles may arise. A child does not need perfect parents who are good at everything, but parents who show that they tackle their problems and solve them when they come with them.
# 6 Children need to have their own experiences
We, overprotective parents, are a hindrance to our children’s resilient development: the psychologist emphasizes that we must not remove every single stone from the children’s path. Children need to have their own challenges and be allowed to master them. It’s about a positive culture of mistakes and encouraging children to make mistakes instead of not trying at all. Helicopter or lawn mower parents are no help.
# 7 Internalize the seven pillars of resilience
In terms of resilience, Dr. Anke Ballmann the best sentence in the book:
“It is important to take responsibility for oneself and say goodbye to the eternal role of victim, for our lives are the consequence of all our decisions. Each of these decisions has its own individual price and we can always make new decisions.”
Dr. Anne Elizabeth Ballman
This means: We should also trust our children more and let them try things, even though we suspect it may go wrong. Because it’s the only way they can become more resilient, and it comes with the seven pillars of resilience, according to Dr. Ballman:
- solution orientation
- leave the role of victim
- To take responsibility
- build networks
- plan for the future “
We therefore learn resilience with every little decision in our lives and in the lives of our children.
# 8 Together we are stronger than against each other
With all the personal development of a child, it is also important that it learns to interact with others and to be part of a community. We as parents should not only be interested in the children’s intellectual achievements, but that they can be integrated into a community and be there for each other. Personal happiness also grows through attachment and social behavior. If children already help each other in primary school and learn from each other, then they become not only more empathetic, but also happier.
Bullying is an extreme problem because children exclude each other when one child is different from the others. Everyone is much happier when they recognize individual differences and see everyone with their strengths and weaknesses as part of the community. We parents can be great role models!
# 9 Every child has their own learning pace
“Adults should allow children to explore the world with confidence.”
The book’s best message encourages all of us to take a deep breath: We do not have to rush stressed through life, nor do our children. Anke Elisabeth Ballmann calls for slower parenting and slow family because we can all use the brakes. We rush towards certain goals without ever being happy, even when we think we have reached them. In addition, we should give our children the opportunity to learn slowly and take the pressure off of them in school and in private. Of course, this also requires a correspondingly slow pace in the schools in a very hardened, outdated and rigid school system. But it’s never too late to work on it and change something.
If you are now inspired and would like to understand even more deeply how the lazy animal principle works, then I recommend Anke Elisabeth Ballman’s book:
The psychologist has also written other textbooks on pedagogical topics and dealing with children:
Do you have a small child at home that requires strong nerves? We only know that all too well. Here are a few tips on how to deal with children in the early stages of autonomy:
Psycho test for mothers: How perfectionist are you?
Image source: Getty Imags / Francine Mancini Author photo: Hannelore Kirchner Book cover: Goldegg Verlag
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